Cats in Australia

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Cats are kept as pets in Australia and are also one of the major invasive species that are causing detrimental effects to indigenous wildlife. For biosecurity reasons any cats that are imported into Australia must meet conditions set of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Historical records date the introduction of cats to Australia at around 1804 and that cats first became feral around Sydney by 1820.[1] There are now an estimated 2.7 million domestic cats and over 18 million feral cats in Australia.

Domesticated cats[edit]

By 2006, 26 percent of Australian households had a domesticated cat.

Feral cats[edit]

Feral cats are one of the major invasive species in Australia and have been linked to the decline and extinction of various native animals. They have been shown to cause a significant impact on ground nesting birds and small native mammals.[2] Feral cats have also hampered any attempts to re-introduce threatened species back into areas where they have become extinct as the cats have simply hunted and killed the newly released animals.[3] Numerous Australian environmentalists claim the feral cat has been an ecological disaster in Australia, inhabiting most ecosystems except dense rainforest, and being implicated in the extinction of several marsupial and placental mammal species.[4] Cats have co-existed with all mammal species in Tasmania for nearly 200 years.[1]

A field experiment conducted in Heirisson Prong (Western Australia) compared small mammal populations in areas cleared of both foxes and cats, of foxes only, and a control plot. Researchers found the first solid evidence that predation by feral cats can cause a decline in native mammals. It also indicates that cat predation is especially severe when fox numbers have been reduced.[5] Cats may play a role in Australia's altered ecosystems; with foxes they may be controlling introduced rabbits, particularly in arid areas, which themselves cause ecological damage. Cats are believed to have been a factor in the extinction of the only mainland bird species to be lost since European settlement, the paradise parrot.[6] Cats in Australia have no natural predators except dingoes and wedge-tailed eagles, and as a result they are apex predators where neither the dingo or the eagle exist.

Australian folklore holds that some feral cats in Australia have grown so large as to cause inexperienced observers to claim sightings of other species such as puma etc. This folklore is being shown to be more fact than fiction, with the recent shooting of an enormous feline,[7] in the Gippsland area of Victoria. Subsequent DNA test showed it to be a feral cat.[8]

Phantom cats[edit]

Main article: Phantom cat

There have been numerous sightings of phantom cats in Australia including the Gippsland phantom cat and the Blue Mountains panther.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Abbott, Ian; Department of Environment and Conservation (2008). "Origin and spread of the cat, Felis catus, on mainland Australia: re-examination of the current conceptual model with additional information". Conservation Science Western Australia Journal (7). Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  2. ^ Dickman, Chris (May 1996). Overview of the Impacts of Feral Cats on Australian Native Fauna. The Director of National Parks and Wildlife - Australian Nature Conservation Agency - Institute of Wildlife Research. ISBN 0 642 21379 8. Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  3. ^ The Threat Of FeralCats
  4. ^ Robley, A.; Reddiex, B.; Arthur, T.; Pech, R.; Forsyth, D. (Sep 2004). "Interactions between feral cats, foxes, native carnivores, and rabbits in Australia". CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems / Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research. Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  5. ^ Danielle A. Risbey, Michael C. Calver, Jeff Short, J. Stuart Bradley, Ian W. Wright (2000). "The impact of cats and foxes on the small vertebrate fauna of Heirisson Prong, Western Australia. II. A field experiment". CSIRO Publishing 27: 223–235. Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  6. ^ "Psephotus pulcherrimus — Paradise Parrot". Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "Engel Gippsland big cat". Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  8. ^ "Feral Mega Cats"

External links[edit]